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Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre added to national register

Shingwauk one of three new inscriptions highlighting importance of Indigenous culture, truth and reconciliation
150528 Shingwauk Hall Algoma University KA
FILE PHOTO: Shingwauk Hall at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Algoma University's Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre has been added to the Canada Memory of the World Register, the University announced today in a news release. 

This register, created in 2017, promotes and provides access to a diverse amount of documentary heritage that's significant to Canada. 

Shingwauk Residential is one of three new inscriptions, which include Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre’s Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and Shingwauk Reunion fonds, Les archives des Augustines du Canada and Selections from the Gospels in the dialect of the Inuit of Little Whale River. 

These historical works highlight the importance of Indigenous culture and continuing work in truth and reconciliation.  

The following is a media release from Algoma University: 

Algoma University’s Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) is one of three new inscriptions that have been added to the Canada Memory of the World Register. The announcement was made today by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which oversees the inscriptions to the Register, following a thorough assessment and recommendation by the Canadian Advisory Committee for Memory of the World. 

Created in 2017, the Canada Memory of the World Register promotes and provides access to an immense diversity of documentary heritage significant to Canada. In recognition of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Call for Nominations emphasized Indigenous languages and cultures.

The three new inscriptions include the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre’s Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and Shingwauk Reunion fonds, Les archives des Augustines du Canada and Selections from the Gospels in the dialect of the Inuit of Little Whale River. Each of these meaningful pieces of historical work highlight the importance of Indigenous culture, and continuing critical work in truth and reconciliation efforts across Canada and the world. 

Founded in 1981 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association was the first community-based national Residential School Survivor organization and has membership spanning Canada and the United States. Over the past four decades, the alumni association has been gathering documentary heritage – including photographs, oral history transcripts, audio-visual footage, and documentation of their community reunions – that preserve evidence of Residential School experiences while drawing attention to the resilience of survivors. 

"The inscription of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA) and Shingwauk Reunion fonds in the Canada Memory of the World Register is a recognition of the decades of Survivor work to preserve and share the history of Residential Schools,” shared SRSC and Arthur A. Wishart Library Researcher/Curator, Krista McCracken. “It honours the impact of the CSAA on the national Residential School Survivor movement and reconciliation in Canada. Given the work we are doing on the Shingwauk Site, it is fitting that the official announcement falls on Orange Shirt Day this year."

UNESCO's Memory of the World program showcases the most meaningful documents in humanity’s heritage and history. Being included in the Memory of the World Register underscores the importance of preserving documentary heritage while highlighting its ongoing relevance and promoting it to citizens, students, researchers, and the public.

“These collections all have a relationship with Indigenous languages and cultures; they are distinguished by their significance, uniqueness, and quality” explains Chantal Fortier, Chair of the Canadian Advisory Committee. “As members of the Advisory Committee, we appreciate the excellent work done by the organizations that presented proposals that highlight the importance of documentary heritage; in one case, this work started almost four centuries ago.”

To learn more about the Memory of the World Register and about the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, read their full release here.